Section 3: January-March 1886

Section 3: January- March 1886

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

Jan 10th [Sunday]. Two months & ten days since I looked at this my neglected journal. I do not remember dates so cannot say exactly when it was I went to stay a day or two with Mrs Rodgerson & Lillie in their new house. I would like to have stayed longer but had promised to stay with Mrs Buckeridge a few days. I made the dress for a large doll while at Mrs Rodgerson’s for her stall at the All Saints’ Bazaar, the doll was much admired & sold for one pound and seven shillings. While at Mrs Rodgerson’s, Mrs Gillam & Miss Senhouse Smith drove up to see me one morning. Miss Smith came to ask me to spend a week with her at the Moutere or anywhere else I would like to go, as she wanted to go into the country for change of air. I accepted at once, glad of going anywhere for change as I was still so unwell I did not know what to do with myself.

Whenever I felt strong enough I did a little to the fretwork for the top of the screen, but it took such a time & was such a labour on account of my being so weak. But at last it was finished, to my great relief.

I stayed a few days with Mrs Buckeridge but although it was delightful there I did not get a bit better, I had promised to help make Ned’s dress for the Olde Englyshe Fayre, so I went with her shopping one afternoon & between us we made the dress which turned out quite a success. As for my own dress, although begun, it was put on one side as I did not feel as if I should go to the Fayre. Frances & Ellen’s costumes were nearly finished, they promised to be lovely.

I was most anxious before I went to the Moutere to get back my exhibits from Wellington as they were to be repacked & sent off to London on Dec 3rd, but the delay always in getting things back from an Exhibition is most unaccountable. However at last Miss Smith fixed the day for going to the Moutere so one fine day she came for me in Thomas’s cab (an open barouche) with two good horses & smart driver. I of course supposed we were going to drive to the Railway Station & that we should go part of the way by train & the remainder by coach. But on asking Miss Smith how we were going she said, ‘We are going to drive, how should we go?’ I might have answered, ‘As most people go, by coach,’ but I merely said, ‘How delightful’ and settled myself back more comfortably in the carriage prepared to enjoy all the goods the gods provide.

Of the journey there, the day was fine, the carriage easy, the horses good, the road good & the country looking beautiful. I had often heard of the long drive over the Moutere Hills, but to me it was most interesting. I never saw such a zig-zag road, the hills covered with Manuka in full flower, here & there in the valleys a little bit of green bush. Alas! since then I hear that lovely Manuka has been destroyed by fire. Now those hills steep, black and bare must look desolate enough to give one the nightmare.

When we arrived at the German Village we were both quite done up with the long drive. Being such invalids it was rather too much so long a journey, so we were very glad to get out at the Moutere Hotel where we were expected, Miss Smith having engaged a sitting room & two bedrooms. The bedrooms were beautifully clean, the sitting room was very much arrayed in white antimacassars, crochet & knitted, even the table cloth & window curtains were also knitted, all very white and stiff. However it gave the room a clean fresh look. Coming downstairs I noticed a large dining room with a long table on which a cloth was laid & several beautiful bunches of flowers arranged.

After waiting a considerable time for our tea, the landlady, a lively, active, pleasant looking young woman, came to say tea was ready.

‘Where?’ said Miss Smith.

‘In the dining room,’ said the landlady.

‘But we wish to have it in here,’ replied Miss Smith.

Landlady, ‘Oh, I didn’t understand.’

‘Why of course,’ said Miss Smith, ‘do you suppose we are going to have our meals with anyone who may come?’

Landlady, ‘Well, there’s no one there now but the gentleman who came with you.’

Miss S., surprised, ‘No gentleman came with us.’

Landlady, ‘Why, the gentleman who drove you over here.’

Miss S., ‘Oh! you mean the cabman. No, we will have our tea here & I am sure Thomas would prefer having his tea without us.’

How we laughed when the landlady left the room, but there was no question after that of our having our meals with the other people, not that I should have minded in the least. I should have thought it like being on board ship.

Next day we wandered about the village a little, and with sketching, working & a good deal of reading we managed to make the time pass very pleasantly for a week. I had lots to do. I took over two black satin brackets to paint for the Fayre. I finished one, ‘Ye Summer Time,’ & nearly another, ‘Ye Spring Flowers.’ At the end of the week Thomas came to fetch us & we had a delightful drive back. I felt so much stronger that I did not feel tired.

One day Mrs Brougham, our landlady who only wanted a little encouragement to talk a good deal, which I must confess we gave her for she was a great source of amusement to us, said, ‘Well, you didn’t know that there were three babies in this room! You are not like some ladies who find it out before I can tell them.’ So saying she opened the door of the chiffonier & took out three dolls dressed in baby clothes. They were large dolls & very pretty, the largest had the prettiest face for a doll that I ever saw, & they were not the least injured or scratched. ‘These dolls,’ she continued, ‘belong to my three little girls, and we always have their clothes fresh got up for Christmas.’

When we had admired the dolls she went on to say, ‘Now you would hardly believe this doll, the largest, is twenty years old. It belonged to my husband’s sister, she was the only girl, & she had when a child a pet lamb, but as the lamb grew it became very troublesome & mischievous, so it was sold, & this doll bought with the money. When my eldest girl was born her aunt gave her the doll, & you see that it has been well taken care of. When I go to Nelson I want to buy another large doll that I saw at Mrs Oakey’s.’

‘Why,’ I exclaimed, ‘that doll is sold, I dressed it for the All Saints’ Bazaar but you had better come to the Olde Englyshe Fayre, no doubt there will be plenty of lovely dolls there.’

‘I am disappointed,’ she replied, ‘I had set my heart on getting that doll, although I could not afford it just then. It was not quite so pretty as this, its cheeks had too much colour to please me. No I do not want to buy a doll at the Fayre for they will be already dressed & I like to dress the doll myself.’

I may mention here that a few days after our return to town Miss Smith came to show me a lovely doll, a little set of tea things & a book which she had just got at Oakey’s & intended sending to Mrs Brougham’s children.

Among the numerous horses wandering round about the Hotel we had often noticed one which seemed to be a pet, they called it ‘the pony,’ not that it was a pony, but it was not full grown & only lately broken in. They said it was nearly thoroughbred & went splendidly. It really was a most graceful creature. Miss Smith took such a fancy to it that a short time after her return to town she bought it with the intention of taking it with her to Christchurch. Thomas kept it at his stables. Frances rode it five times. Thomas used to bring it to our house looking such a picture with its shining coat & handsome new saddle. Fortunately Frances had a beautifully fitting cloth habit so she used to look quite comme il faut. Miss Smith has only ridden it twice yet I really do not think she is strong enough to ride.

On my return I found that my exhibits had at last arrived. On opening the case we soon saw that they were all there but the table-top. The two screens I sent to Fleming to be re-polished & one to have the new piece of fretwork put in & then he repacked them including the mantel drape & fan & they were sent off for the Indian & Colonial Exhibition in London. I also told Mr Scaife to mention to Mr Barraud that my table-top had not been returned.

Dec 2nd, 1885 [Wednesday]. It would take too long to describe the Olde Englyshe Fayre. I suppose it was much like others of the same sort only better in some respects, the shops were far better built & painted than had ever been done in New Zealand before. The ladies’ costumes, most of them were handsome and made with a greater attention to details. The Lady Jane Grey costumes were extremely beautiful. The Fayre was only supposed to last a week but it was kept on for nearly a fortnight, open in the evenings the second week, so we had enough of it as the Maypole dance was without doubt the greatest attraction, it had never been seen in Nelson before. Frances saw it danced in Wellington and finding that no one was able to get it up, she set herself to thinking it out, and she soon came to the conclusion that she could do it. Neither Ellen nor I had ever seen it danced, but we helped Frances all we could, & when Frances & Ellen offered to get up the Maypole dance, the Committee gladly accepted their offer.

So then Frances began to invite children, taking care to get pretty & more particularly graceful children, then we had a Maypole set up in our school room with ribbons, with which we all practised ourselves until we were perfect. We had some trouble to get the children we wanted. People wanted us to have smaller children & many wanted us to have only girls, however, at last we got enough to commence. We had them to practise twice a week for three months, the first few weeks the figures were all confusion, someone was sure to go wrong but gradually it began to be quite a pretty sight to see them dance, & fully a month before the Fayre they were all quite perfect and many were the requests we received to be allowed to see them dance, which we never refused for we soon found that the oftener people saw them the more they wanted to. Then again we had continual visits from ladies to consult about their children’s costumes. Most ladies were perfectly willing that their children should have whatever dresses we wished if we would only describe what we wanted etc. Mrs Ambrose Moore was of great use to us. She took a very great deal of trouble: she bought & borrowed books, & ransacked the shops for patterns. Some people were very hard to persuade to get the right dresses, we made two dresses altogether & helped to make several. Mrs Moore’s children’s dresses were perfect, she helped us a great deal.

‘Unnamed Maypole Dancers.’ Nelson Provincial Museum. 176261

After a long description of the Olde Englyshe Fayre in the Evening Mail, this is what they said of the Maypole dance:

Shortly after 8 o’clock the following little people all arrayed in the prettiest of costumes marched on to the stage in couples: Misses Black, Curtis, Gilbert, Gully, Heaps, Melhuish, Moore, Stuckey, M. Heaps, Lightfoot, Leggett, Mackay, Mabin, & Webb. Masters Black, Buckeridge, Leggett, E. Leggett, Lightfoot, Melhuish, Moore, Sealey, & Webb. Of the dancing, which commenced with Sir Rodger de Coverley, it is impossible to speak in too high praise, for it was simply perfect. In all there were twelve figures, some of them most intricate & complicated and all were gone through without the slightest hesitation or a single mistake. Colonel Pitt & Major Webb have received, & deservedly so, much kudos for the efficiency which the Nelson Volunteers have attained in battalion drill, but we may fairly say that no movements were ever executed in the Botanical Reserve with greater precision than were those around the Maypole last night under the direction of the Misses Harris . . . The applause was frequent & enthusiastic.

The Colonist’s account:

An announcement was made by the Beadle that the Maypole dance was about to begin. It may safely be said that never before was such a pretty scene witnessed when some eight & twenty or thirty children whose quaint costumes, though serving to make the picture more attractive, were altogether powerless to divert one’s pleasurable contemplation off the charming little fairies & their winsome graces. These little people deserve no end of praise for the assiduity with which they evidently had submitted to the careful training of the Damezelles Frances Harris and Ellen Harris, assisted by Damezelle Harris, for their dances were executed with wonderful precision — a fact which must have been gratifying in the highest degree to the ladies whose names we have just mentioned. Commencing with the old-fashioned Sir Rodger de Coverley, the children, after some exceedingly pretty figures, danced round the Maypole linking their arms around one another, and then holding the gaily coloured ribbons. The combinations are only to be described as the prettiest imaginable. During the dance the audience applauded most heartily but at its conclusion the children were greeted with cheers.

Flattering as the papers were I do not think one word went beyond the truth, we had taken immense trouble, & the strictness with which from the commencement Frances had insisted upon order & obedience went far to ensure success while our artist’s taste made [us] take the utmost care that everything was in keeping & appropriate. As for our own dresses, we all got very soon tired of hearing how beautiful they were & how well they suited us. Our neighbour Mrs Tyree, on coming home from the Fayre, told Mrs Moore that, ‘Our Miss Harrises could hold their own with anybody.’

We got a deal of amusement from the Fayre and the satisfaction of knowing that we had done a great deal towards its success. After it was all over we had our school breaking up to think about: prizes, church decorations, etc. And after Christmas we were unusually glad of the holidays. We neither of us went away to stay, but on New Year’s Day Ellen & I went to a picnic at Mackay’s Bluff, the first time we had been there, & a few weeks after I was driven by a friend to Todd’s Bush where I took a sketch in oils of some nikau trees. I had to work very hard to get two table-tops finished to send by Dr Haast to the I. & C. Exhibition. I have also during the last two months painted eleven cards of N.Z. flowers. We had a few weeks ago a picnic up the Dun Mountain tramway. I took a sketch from there of Nelson, that & the nikaus I have since finished. Those two & the cards I sent last week, March 24th.

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

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Jan 10th [Sunday]
Emily reconstructs events of November and December 1885, beginning with her stay with Mrs Rodgerson and Lillie and with another friend, Mrs Buckeridge. She is still convalescent after her illness of September-October.

Miss Smith came to ask me to spend a week with her at the Moutere

Ellen Smith was the younger daughter of Catharine and Thomas Smith of Papcastle, Cumbria. She was born 7 Mar 1848 and after being orphaned upon her mother’s death in 1853 she and her sister Catherine lived with her uncle Richard Smith in nearby Cockermouth.  The sisters emigrated to New Zealand where Catherine married Andrew Roby Bloxam in 1880. Ellen died on 25 Jan 1892 in Torquay on a return trip to England. (Records concerning the estate of Miss Ellen Senhouse Smith of Papcastle and later New Zealand)

Miss Senhouse Smith advertised the sale of superior household furniture and effects from her home on the corner of Waimea and Van Diemen Streets in mid-1884, suggesting that she intended leaving Nelson (Colonist 27 June 1884: 2). In 1885 she is visiting Nelson from Christchurch.

I stayed a few days with Mrs Buckeridge

There were two Buckeridge families in Nelson. George and Elizabeth Buckeridge had four daughters and two sons. George’s brother Henry John married Matilda Buxton in 1864 and the couple had three sons, Henry, Leopold and Edmund. Henry Buckeridge was drowned trying to save his son Leopold (Lee) near Moutere in 1881 (Colonist 27 Jan 1881: 2 [sup]). Edmund, aged 8 in 1885, is the Ned of Emily’s diary entry and the ‘Master Buckeridge’ referred to in the newspaper accounts of the Harris sisters’ Maypole dance for the Olde Englyshe Fayre. See Emily’s diary entry 2 Dec 1885. See also ‘Ned’s dress’ (2 Apr 2020).

Ellen Harris witnessed events leading up to the drowning of Henry Buckeridge and gave her testimony at the inquest:

An inquest was held on Thursday before Charles Kelling, Esq , J.P., Acting Coroner, on the body of Henry Buckeridge, who was drowned on the previous day at the Moutere Bluffs. The following evidence was taken: — Ellen Harris: I have been staying at the house of Mr Buxton as a visitor to Mrs Buckeridge, the wife of the deceased, since New Year’s Day. The whole family were assembled on the beach waiting for the boys to land from the canoe to join us, as we were starting for a picnic. The boys, four of them, were all landing, when Leopold Buckeridge, the second son of deceased; 13 years of age, tried to pull the canoe ashore, but the waves washed him off his feet, and he was carried out a little way, clinging to the boat all the time. He then managed to get into her. The deceased threw off his coat and jumped into the water to swim to the boy to render him assistance, but he could not reach the canoe, which was drifting out to sea much faster than deceased could swim. I then left them to get assistance, and when I came back the canoe was still going further out to sea, and deceased turned round, evidently trying to come back, but he could not make any headway. Then the two Mr Heines came, but could give no assistance. Mr Douglas then went for Mr J. Thomas to come with his boat, and some went to the Lower Moutere to call for help from there with their boats, but long before any help came the deceased had disappeared. Thomas afterwards found the body, and I saw it brought on shore. I think it was two hours from the time deceased went into the water until the body was brought out. Every effort was made to restore life in him but it was all in vain. Meanwhile some one had been sent for Dr Johansen, from Motueka, who, when he arrived; pronounced life quite extinct, and said, that everything had been done to restore life. (Nelson Evening Mail 24 Jan 1881: 2)

prepared to enjoy all the goods the gods provide
The source of Emily’s observation is a line in the play Rudens by the Roman author Plautus (c.254-184 BC): ‘habeas quod di dant boni, you may keep what good the gods give.’ (Oxford Reference)

Of the journey there, the day was fine, the carriage easy, the horses good
The hired barouche leaves Nelson, passing through Richmond, the Waimea Plains and Appleby before turning off at the Moutere Highway and continuing down a long straight through Redwood Valley that leads into the Moutere Hills. The road over the hills is steep and winding and the descent on the far side (also steep) has sweeping views over the sea towards Nelson. Another straight leads into the village of Upper Moutere, completing the journey of about 35 km. Thomas, whose stables have provided the carriage, has not been identified.

When we arrived at the German Village
The district was settled in the 1840s by German immigrants who established the village of Sarau in the upper Moutere Valley. By the time of Emily’s visit, the village was known as Upper Moutere, a name that was officially adopted after 1914. (The Prow)

Miss S., surprised, ‘No gentleman came with us.’
Emily flexes her dramatic and descriptive powers to deliver implied commentary on the snobbishness of Miss Smith’s interactions with those whom she regards as her social inferiors. The narrative is a set piece and perhaps indicates what was lost when Emily destroyed her girlhood diary (‘My mother not knowing what I had done told me how very much pleased she was with what I had written, only she wished to point out how I might do better in future & that I must be very careful how I wrote about other people’).

One day Mrs Brougham, our landlady
‘Brougham’s Upper Moutere’ features in an advertisement for horse-breeding in November 1885, close to the time of Emily’s visit and perhaps associated with the numerous horses she observes around the hotel and the near-thoroughbred Miss Smith buys during their stay (Nelson Evening Mail 16 Nov 1885: 4). The Moutere Inn was built in 1857 by Cordt Bensemann and is still operating. Nelson researcher Anne McFadgen notes that The licensee at the time of Emily’s visit was Thomas Godsall Brougham, a son of one of Motueka’s early settlers. His wife Caroline née Heath was a daughter of Thomas Heath, who settled early in the Graham Valley on the west bank of the Motueka River, where he ran an accommodation house. (Email to Michele Leggott 15 Mar 2020)

When I go to Nelson I want to buy another large doll that I saw at Mrs Oakey’s
Alfred Oakey owned a fancy goods and music store in Bridge St, Nelson. A photograph of the shop in 1891-92 is held in the Tyree Studio Collection at Nelson Provincial Museum (55250). Miss Smith buys gifts for the Brougham children at Oakey’s and Emily buys an easel there with the proceeds of her sale at the Wellington exhibition. See section 4.

Dec 2nd, 1885 [Wednesday]
Nelson Evening Mail 2 Dec 1885:2. Colonist 5 Dec 1885: 2 [Sup].

Emily’s account of the Olde Englyshe Fayre is echoed in a letter Jame Maria Atkinson wrote to her niece Anne Elizabeth (Alla) Richmond 4 Dec 1885.

This week dissipation is the order of the day, or rather night, the gay hours being 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., as the Olde English Fayre is in full bloom. It is really quite picturesque and much more amusing than I imagined it could be. From 3 to 6 p.m. the ordinary business of fancy bazaars goes on, only the ladies have their goods displayed in the semblance of old English shops and they are attired in the costume of some distant period of history varying from Henry VII to Sir J. Reynolds . . . The most becoming are the Lady J. Grey dresses . . . Mrs Andrew Richmond and the Miss Campbells look quite queenly, Beattie Macdonald and Annie Pitt very pretty, Totsey Levien handsome . . . Everyone looks better than in the dress of this period. Why can’t women always pick out something becoming or picturesque for themselves, and avoid the cruel monotony of ugliness to which the modern world seems doomed . . . The children’s costumes are as varied as those of the ladies or more so including pages of Henry VIIIth’s time down to small curly headed plough boys. A little Ambrose Moore is admirably got up as the latter, and a still smaller sister is inimitable as his grandmother . . . There are a good many Kate Greenaway dresses, Gertie and Maudie Heaps and Audrey Webb looking especially well in theirs. . . . Mrs A. Scaife is gorgeous in an old gold Tudor costume . . .

The provision store is an immense pecuniary success tho’ very large articles have to be raffled. Fancy Mr Gully winning a very large goose and having to get it home in triumph to Mrs G. (who disapproves of raffles). (Scholefield)

Mrs Ambrose Moore was of great use to us
Sarah Rebecca Moore (1846-1929) and her husband Ambrose Eyles Moore (1844-1907) were neighbours at 30 Nile St, Nelson. Ambrose was a sharebroker, accountant, insurance and financial agent and the stepson of John Gully. Sarah published New Zealand Fairyland: A Story of the Caves, with illustrations by Emily Cumming Harris (Auckland: Brett Printing and Publishing, 1909). Emily’s preliminary drawings for 22 chapter headings of another children’s book, ‘Pelorus Jack,’ are held at the Nelson Provincial Museum. MS HAR Call No A1180. Two of the Moore children (Ambrose and Elsie) are mentioned in Maria Atkinson’s letter of December 1885.

Our neighbour Mrs Tyree
Mary Ann Evans, née Cross, married William Tyree in Nelson in 1880. William Tyree (1855–1924) and his brother Fred established a photographic studio in Trafalgar St, Nelson, in 1878. In 1886 the brothers took on Rosaline Margaret Frank (1864-1954) as a studio assistant. In 1895 Rose Frank was appointed manager of the studio and was working as one of the country’s first professional women photographers. The four head and shoulders studio portraits labelled ‘Miss Harris’ in the Tyree collection at the Nelson Provincial Museum depict Emily. They date from 1898-1899 and seem likely to be the work of Rose Frank. See ‘Sisters at a Glance: #1 Emily Cumming Harris’ (16 July 2020).

Mackay’s Bluff… Todd’s Bush… Dun Mountain tramway
Summer outings that double as opportunities for sketching. Mackay’s Bluff is the beginning of the 13 km Boulder Bank that forms the northern limit of Nelson Haven in Tasman Bay. Todd’s Bush, now known as Todd Bush is located in Todd’s Valley at Atawhai. The Dun Mountain tramway was the remnant of a railway that opened in 1862, running from the port across the city. The horse-drawn tramway then climbed from Brook Street to a height of 2870 feet where it terminated at the chromite mines situated east of Nelson. The Dun Mountain Railway Company went into liquidation in 1872, but the last remnant of the railway, the horse-drawn tram, continued to operate half-hourly between Hardy Street and the Tasman Hotel at the Port until 1901 (The Prow). The tramway appears in one of Edwin Harris’s sketches of the Nelson waterfront. (Cranstone sketchbook 39)

I had to work very hard to get two table-tops finished to send by Dr Haast to the I. & C. Exhibition
Emily extends her submissions for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. The Catalogue of New Zealand Exhibits recorded three entries in oils (‘Two Painted Screens; Painted Fan; Two Table-tops, painted with flowers’). Another entry (‘Screen, painted with New Zealand Flowers’) was listed under Various Paintings & Drawings.  A ‘Mantel Drape worked in Silk’ appeared in the official catalogue under Lace, Net, Embroidery and Trimmings. (Field-Dodgson Appendix 1)

I have also during the last two months painted eleven cards of N.Z. flowers
The diary now moves to March 1886, noting completion of the landscape sketch in oils started on the trip to Dun Mountain and the study of nikau trees from Todd’s Bush. The paintings and the cards of New Zealand flowers have been dispatched, perhaps to the Auckland Society of Arts which held regular exhibitions in April (Field-Dodgson Appendix 1). Examples of the hand-painted cards produced by Emily and her sisters have yet to be recovered.

Full Navigation

Section 1: August 1885
Section 2: September-November 1885
Section 3: January-March 1886: You Are Here
Section 4: March-July 1886
Section 5: August-November 1886
Section 6: August-December 1888
Section 7: January 1889
Section 8: February-August 1889
Section 9: September-October 1889
Section 10: November-December 1889
Section 11: January-February 1890
Section 12: August 1890-February 1891